Black minister thanks Biden for ‘having the courage to apologize’ over segregation comments

An African Methodist Episcopal Church reverend thanked Joe Biden for apologizing for how he described his relationships with segregationist senators.

“We want to thank Vice President Biden for apologizing. We want to thank him for having the courage to apologize,” Rev. Thomas Nesbitt said in a prayer during a Morris Brown AME Church service on Sunday as Biden sat in a second row pew. Nesbitt noted that “God gave Jesus an apologetics to us.” 

In a campaign speech in Sumter, South Carolina on Saturday, Biden apologized for “any of the pain and misconception” that arose from comments that he made at a fundraiser in June, when he pointed to his relationships with segregationist senators James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia as an example of civility. Presidential primary rivals Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey criticized Biden’s comments.

Church pastor Rev. James A. Keeton Jr. also appeared to try to help smooth over the controversy over Biden’s comment about segregationists during the service, introducing Biden as “somebody who understands the importance of working across the aisle” and “working with people who may not believe what you do.”

Earlier during the service, Biden gave brief remarks to the congregation of around 150 parishioners Sunday morning. He did not repeat or reference the apology he made on Saturday. 

Image copyright: Emily Larsen/WEX

Biden referenced visiting Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015, located blocks away from the Morris Brown AME Church, with former President Barack Obama after the shooting that killed nine people.

I will never forget that, when Barack stood before an expanded congregation, and he sang Amazing Grace,” Biden said. “I served with great honor” for eight years under Obama, he added.

Biden has been stressing his connection to the former president throughout his two-day campaign swing through South Carolina, an early primary state where a majority of Democratic primary voters are black.

“Imagine what it would’ve been through those dark, dark days — I mean this sincerely — without the black church,” Biden told the church congregation. “You understand hope.”

Biden also recalled something said his mom would tell him: “As long as you’re alive, you have an obligation to strive, and you’re not dead ’till you see the face of God.”

Main image copyright: Emily Larsen/WEX)

Written by: Emily Larsen

First published 07.07.19:

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